Hailing from Carlsbad, New Mexico, we’re not sure how Rowdy got his handle but it’s a sure thing that the name fits. As a return rider, the long, lanky, fun and rowdy guy is signed up to do it again in 2018, which was a surprise to both officials and himself. “I was done with it all,” Schenck explained in his signature Southern drawl. “I even did a video at the end saying I would not be back. I was worn out, exhausted and so was my bike.” His wife and only crew member agreed. After they heard the announcement for the 2018 route, however, his sweetie looked at her husband with a smile and said, “You know, I’ve never been to Portland, Maine.” Neither had Rowdy. Next thing you know Rowdy was elbow deep in his 1915, tearing it down for the very necessary rebuild that’s required for the more than 3,000 miles from Maine to Oregon.
Rowdy originally took two full years to build the 1915 H-D, with the last three months involving daily work in his small but well-equipped machine shop. He does all his own work and swears he’ll never run 100-year-old connecting rods again. “When I first bought the 1915, I couldn’t figure out how it could be put together, let alone get it running. I used to think Flatheads and Knuckles were old, but JDs are old and hard. I could put four Knuckles together for what it takes to do one JD. But you know what, Mike Bell was my mentor the whole time. He is everything the Cannonball is meant to be.” Bell, who is rider #41, had brought along an extra engine for his bike, Alice, but when Rowdy had trouble on the 2016 route, Bell offered up his only spare. When Mike’s engine also failed, he didn’t ask Rowdy to return the loan. Instead, Bell finished with 84 points less than Schenck. That kind of brotherhood, and spirit, is what the Motorcycle Cannonball is all about.